Media Newser Philippines' Media Winners and Losers for 2018

By Media Newser Philippines | Friday, January 18, 2019

Photo: GMA-7/One News/CNN Philippines Life/JL Javier/Erwin Tulfo
Artwork: Media Newser Philippines
And so here are we at the start of 2019, where we continue our tradition of listing down the names, programs and networks that defined the past year.

Here in our annual yearender, we are not just going to honor the best of the best in Philippine television news industry (or beyond that), but also name some of the year's biggest losers and epic failures.

For this edition, we sought the help of three respected and award-winning journalists who, while not actively working in the media, are keeping an eye on what's happening in the industry. On condition of complete anonymity, these three helped us assess who or what should comprise our lists.

As was the case in our previous editions, we once again have a number of new entrants, as well as few other deserving returnees (like those from ANC and CNN Philippines).

And so, without further ado, we at Media Newser Philippines present to your our Media Winners and Losers for the year 2018.


Photo: One News

One News' The Chiefs

Politicians who want to make headlines or major policy pronouncements have a new stop on television. It's not on free TV or in a major news channel, but rather on the fledgling, little known One News.

The Chiefs, hosted by Ed Lingao, Amy Pamintuan and Roby Alampay, was the year's top news program, thanks to its insightful, thought-provoking and challenging conversations with the newsmakers.

From exclusive interviews with the likes of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the program also scored multiple headline-grabbing sit-downs this past year, including one with NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia, who days before President Rodrigo Duterte's third State of the Nation Address admitted that a shift to federalism would “wreak havoc.”

Another noteworthy episode was with Consultative Committee chair Julio Teehankee, who in July made a slip-of-the-tongue admission that the president can run again under the proposed federal form of government. That, of course, as we pointed out in our MNP Review back in August, did some serious damage to the campaign, as the Filipino people began to question whether there's really a need for a shift to federalism.

Recent episodes have shown that the program, which is executive produce by seasoned journalist Jove Francisco, will continue chasing the big interviews. Its December episode with Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, for example, drew some attention and even sizzled on social media.

In it, the hosts threw her an avalanche of questions regarding her senatorial candidacy, her legislative agenda should she win on May 13th, and other national issues.

Marcos was also, more importantly, challenged about her family's ill-gotten wealth, which appeared to have annoyed the former presidential daughter, who ended up repeatedly playing the “ask my lawyers” card to evade tough questions.

As we are officially in the campaign season, count on the The Chiefs to nab some of the big, must-see conversations with the country's political hitters. In such a short span of time, this One News production has become one of the most important programs in Philippine television.

Screenshot: ANC

Cathy Yang and the ABS-CBN Business News Team

Hardly a day passed by without hearing the news about the Philippine inflation rate, which reached a near-decade high in September. Average Filipinos have become more concerned about the rising prices of consumer goods and other basic commodities, with a demand to the government to start taking some serious actions.

Like the previous years, ABS-CBN News' business news team, led by anchor and managing editor Cathy Yang, was front and center to the biggest financial stories in and outside the country.

Credit Yang's sources in business built over her 15 years in international media, the veteran journalist has continuously made ANC the leader in Philippine business news reporting.

In addition to her plethora of guests, ranging from business leaders and market watchers, Yang, with the help of the ABS-CBN Data Analytics team, also successfully launched what is now an important franchise in ANC: the Dissecting Data segment.

Since its inception in 2018, the segment has been the only piece on television that offers a thorough analysis and interpretation of the big data — data that every Filipino should know.

With global uncertainty clouding our horizons, expect Yang and her team to be there. Truly, in business news, ANC is the undisputed leader and Cathy Yang is at its reins.

Photo: GMA-7

Rhea Santos and Unang Hirit

Unang Hirit is no stranger to landing in our winners list. Already, the long-running GMA-7 morning show made it twice over the last 6 years — first in 2014 and then in 2017. One of its lead anchors, Connie Sison, was also previously included here with her superb coverage of the Manila bus ban in 2014.

For 2018, Unang Hirit scored another spot in our annual list, thanks to its longtime anchor Rhea Santos, who led the show's Unang Hirit sa Holy Land coverage in March.

The week-long reporting, which saw Santos and her team traveling to some well-known holy sites during the holy week, gave viewers everything that is missing in morning TV these days: heart, purpose and a sense of mission. It also reminded the viewing public how good of a storyteller Santos is and why she is the undisputed queen of morning news.

By the end of 2019, Unang Hirit will be marking its 20th year on the air — a television milestone that only few shows have achieved. If 2018 has proven anything, it is that the Kapuso morning show is here to stay.

As for Santos, we certainly hope she'll be given a chance again to showcase her skills this year. And maybe GMA-7 can also finally improve her long-running Tunay Na Buhay, and transform it into a more relevant, meaningful program that goes beyond celebrity stories.

Photo: ANC Early Edition

ANC's Early Edition

While Unang Hirit remains the top choice of the “masang Pilipino,” Early Edition in 2018 emerged as the morning show for the country's decision makers and opinion leaders.

With the right balance of news you can use and news that matters, Early Edition is the show in the early bird slot where you can consume just about anything.

While morning TV is traditionally known for its light features and segments (i.e. consumer related stories), the ANC morning show has also successfully adapted the hard-hitting talk format with its highly successful Matters of Fact segment, headlined by Christian Esguerra.

In one of his most memorable confrontations from last year, Esguerra roasted Chief Presidential Counsel and now-Presidential Spokerperson Salvador Panelo for trying to find a way to spin President Duterte's “God is stupid” remark.

Excerpts from the interview below:
Christian Esguerra: You keep on saying that many followers of certain religions need to follow what the religion is teaching. But in your case, you're a Catholic or in the case of the president. You are questioning the bible story. I don't know what kind of catechesis you guys received during childhood but since you talk about following the religion, how come you do not follow this kind of teaching?
Salvador Panelo: I don't know about you but when we were all children, we were taught about the theory of creation. We, of course, adapt it because we've been taught to adapt it. But it doesn't mean that when you grow up, you develop your own kind of thinking, you do not question certain theories which lack logic. And that is actually what he is actually doing.
CE: Actually, if we recall our catechesis, we are not barred from questioning certain matters of the faith. We are not precluded from questioning the logic behind certain stories.
SP: If we are not precluded, why are you precluding your president from stating his concept of what he thinks the theory of creation is?
CE: Because the president is using the national stage to attack the belief of another religion. Incidentally he belongs to that same religion.

By February, the English-language morning show will be introducing a new female anchor as replacement for Annalisa Burgos. How that will affect the dynamic of the show — and whether they can keep the momentum rolling — remains a question. For now, without much competition in that arena, Early Edition is the perfect morning news alternative from the big 2 morning shows.

Screenshot: CNN Philippines

Pinky Webb and The Source

Another returnee here in our yearender is Pinky Webb, the host of CNN Philippines' morning talk program The Source.

In 2018, Webb not only continued with her one-on-one interviews with the country's political players, but also cemented herself as the face of CNN Philippines.

That is not an unfair description to other network talents because Webb now has one of the, if not the, highest rated programs on the local CNN station.

Respected by both sides of the aisle, Webb, with the help of her production team, managed to land rare interviews with the likes of Solicitor General Jose Calida, who for the first time in June went on the record to deny his alleged extramarital affair, as well as the allegations of conflict of interest; and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who in November spoke about his Senate run, as well as to answer the cheating allegations made by former Vice President Jejomar Binay on One News' The Chiefs just days prior.

Combine these newsmaking interviews with Webb's ability to ask the toughest of questions, The Source will likely to continue growing its audience and influence this 2019. And with the midterm elections just a few months away, the exclusives will likely keep on coming. Webb and The Source team are ready to score them.

Photo: GMA-7

Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho (KMJS)

Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho isn't just the most buzzed, most watched program every Sunday night, it is also the pride of GMA News and Public Affairs.

In 2018, the de facto leader in Sunday primetime not only gave us episodes that were consistently well-produced and thoroughly researched, but it also went beyond its usual offerings with gripping and eye-opening reporting, (i.e. its special on human trafficking in September).

Staying true to the organization's “Serbisyong Totoo” branding, KMJS also continued its distinct storytelling mixed with public service with its highly popular reunion stories, which has since been copied by ABS-CBN's Rated K.

At a time when networks tend to lean more towards what sell, or what they believe the viewers want to watch, it's reassuring to know that there is still a program on Sunday night that does actual journalism and public service.

Truly, if it's Sunday night, it's KMJS night. Period.

Screenshot: ANC

Tina Monzon-Palma and Independence

And the comeback story of the year belongs to veteran journalist Tina Monzon-Palma, who returned to her anchor chair at ANC's venerable The World Tonight.

Aside from her nightly newscast, Monzon-Palma also went back to the “big interviews” game via ANC's periodic series Independence.

At Independence, Monzon-Palma made the most out of her carefully structured one-on-one with the country's top leaders, asking them tough but always fair questions.

Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had this to say about her experience being interviewed by the legendary newswoman: “Sobra ka magtanong, grabe ka magtanong, Tina.”

That, of course, should be treated as a compliment — an assurance that there are still journalists out there who will challenge people from both ends of the political spectrum, especially at a time when half of the country accuse the mainstream media or MSM of bias, or being "dilawans."

So far, aside from Sereno, Monzon-Palma also had the opportunity to talk to Vice President Leni Robredo, former House Speaker Panteleon Alvarez, Senate President Tito Sotto, and AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez.

Still missing in that list is the commander-in-chief, who has been elusive in television interviews. Maybe that will change this 2019, and maybe he will have the courage to face a journalist like Monzon-Palma. If and when that happens, the entire nation will be watching.

Photo: CNN Philippines Life

CNN Philippines' The Filipino Votes Senatorial Forum

CNN Philippines has had a mixed year. Its program The Source continued its streak as the premier political talk program in daytime, while its host Pinky Webb remained a most sought after interviewer by politicians.

But one of its flagship programs, no less than the primetime edition of Newsroom, suffered the most in 2018 following the departure of its original anchor, Mitzi Borromeo. Apart from being lampooned by viewers, the program also lost a significant audience share.

New Day, its morning show, also lost its lead anchor, Claire Celdran, in June — leading to a similar issue in the ratings.

But the tide seems to be changing slowly, and just before the year ended — with a new anchor at 9PM (Ruth Cabal), a TV special that hinted the potential (if not official) comeback of Celdran, and a very successful senatorial forum — CNN Philippines is starting to make good news again.

The network's The Filipino Votes forum, which was staged in December, gave viewers a glimpse of what it has in store for the rest of this election season: live TV events that are compelling and riveting, headlined by the very successful tandem of Pia Hontiveros and Pinky Webb.

Already in the first month of 2019, the network has announced a follow-up, airing in less than two weeks time. There are also talks that Armie Jarin-Bennett and her team are planning another television debate, similar to their highly successful production in 2016.

And who would want to miss that opportunity? After all, CNN Philippines gave us the best television debate in recent memory. We all know they are more than capable of repeating that magic once again.

Photo: Atty. Mel Sta. Maria

Interview with Dean Mel Sta. Maria

What we can all consider the game-changer among the top talkers happens to be on the web. It is not produced by a local television network nor has the backing of any major advertisers in the country. Rather, it is independently produced by lawyer and broadcaster Mel Sta. Maria.

Since going full-digital, following his departure as resident legal analyst of TV5, Sta. Maria has landed himself a number of high-profile interviews for his highly-streamed Interview with Dean Mel Sta. Maria.

Among those who already appeared on his webshow: Representatives Gary Alejano and Neri Colmenares, Senator Bam Aquino, and former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, just to name a few.

In addition to this, Sta. Maria and his team have also expanded his webshow's content model and they have since started offering timely and relevant commentaries on national and political issues — all done live, uninterrupted and unfiltered (i.e. his call to not vote for candidates who will side with the administration, which made some serious waves).

Just last month, Sta. Maria scored his biggest coup yet: an hour-long, in-depth interview with Vice President Leni Robredo. Imagine that: the second highest official in the land agreeing to do an interview with a non-TV entity. That's an influence and power that only few television broadcasters can match.

Photo: Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa

It's only fitting that we are ending our winners list once again with TIME Magazine's Person of the Year: Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

Ressa, now 55, will forever be remembered for being one of the few journalists who tirelessly challenged an authoritarian regime. Her and Rappler's mission, which continued for much of 2018, is to just get the truth out there without fear or favor. Quite a noble mission under this administration, and one that got her and her news outlet in serious trouble with those cases filed against them.

Ressa has made her stance clear in several occasions: that she is anti-authoritarianism and against those who abuse their power. That has been her and Rappler's mission, and one that we hope will inspire more Filipino journalists and broadcasters.

After all, to not be vocal about what's happening in our country is a disservice not only to the journalism profession, but also to the Filipino people, who look up to them as watchdogs of society and keepers of the truth.


  • Jamela Alindogan, Jeff Canoy, Chiara Zambrano
  • Bawal Ang Pasaway Kay Mareng Winnie
  • The 9PM newscasts: State of the Nation with Jessica Soho and The World Tonight
  • Karmina Constantino and Talkback
  • UKG's Gretchen Ho


    Photo: CNN Philippines Life/JL Javier

    CNN Philippines Newsroom

    Prior to joining the Duterte administration, Cherie Mercado was that charming, experienced broadcaster from TV5. But her stint in the government made people question whether she could still make a comeback, and have that under the administration of the man she had vigorously supported during the 2016 elections.

    In January of last year, we reported that CNN Philippines had selected the veteran broadcaster to take over the 9 o'clock edition of Newsroom (one of our media winners in 2017). The response to that move: a slew of negative reactions from our readers, with many of them questioning her selection.

    The general sentiment was how can Mercado — just like any pro-Duterte in the media — cover his administration in an unbiased lens?

    True enough, her coverage of his State of the Nation Address in July, where she had her former boss, DOTR's Arthur Tugade, and DPHW's Mark Villar, highlighted that issue.

    "How come Cherie was allowed to have her old boss Arthur Tugade as an analyst of sorts? I wouldn't be surprised if it was from PTV but for CNN Philippines it was a horrible choice,” wrote one of our readers in our MNP Poll.

    Now, it's easy to criticize Mercado, but it isn't really, or at least totally, just her fault. At the end of the day, the powers that be at CNN Philippines knew what or who they were getting when they hired her. Sadly, they didn't look into potential conflicts of interest in her hiring. Well, the viewers certainly did.

    Photo and Logo: GMA-7

    GMA News and Public Affairs

    As if GMA News TV's never-ending identity crisis wasn't enough, GMA News and Public Affairs also suffered a similar issue in 2018.

    Last year, the Kapuso news and public affairs division began shifting its focus on non-news programming with teleseryes like Inday Will Always Love You and My Guitar Princess. Gone were the historical and social realist dramas in the mold of the critically-acclaimed Bayan Ko and Katipunan.

    What's more, the long-running Wish Ko Lang has also completely abandoned its public service format, and has been completely morphed into a crime anthology program, similar to its more successful competitor, ABS-CBN's SOCO.

    To be fair, GMA News and Public Affairs as a whole still produces some of the best documentaries on television, such as those from Reel Time and I-Witness, and public affairs shows like Bawal Ang Pasaway and Investigative Documentaries. But its shift in priorities makes us wonder what and where is “Serbisyong Totoo” in these entertainment-oriented programs?

    Is "Tahanan ng Katotohanan" now gunning to become the home of Pinoy dramas and soap opera? We certainly hope they can correct all of these this 2019.

    Photo: Korina Sanchez

    Rated K and Korina Sanchez

    Every Sunday night, viewers tune in to one magazine show to get their dose of news and features, often both informative and entertaining. The show's segments are often well produced, with its host retaining her standing in 2018 as one of the most trusted names in Philippine television.

    Such descriptions can never be said to ABS-CBN's Rated K and to its host Korina Sanchez, who in August of last year did a very flattering feature on sexy starlet turned Duterte propagandist Mocha Uson.

    As netizens pointed out, the feature, which they packaged as "Korina meets Mocha," was unnecessary, a desperate attempt to increase the show's anemic and failing ratings.

    Sanchez, on her part, argued that it was her “duty” as a journalist to feature Ms. Uson, writing in an Instagram post right after drawing universal flak: “Hello all! Thank you! I read all your comments approving and disapproving. I respect it all. I feel your sentiments — as I try to respect everyone's opinions and choices. As a journalist it is a duty to air material for all. I make no editorials about Mocha either way. She is news material and we air what she has to say with no opinions. You might find it interesting. After which you make your own judgments.”

    Fair enough. But it was also her duty to challenge Ms. Uson, at a time when there were talks about her running for public office. On a very basic level, any journalist would ask her about her qualifications, or lack thereof, or confront her on how she used her post to spread lies and cause division among Filipinos.

    To give a propagandist an airtime, while lobbing nothing but softball questions like "Sino ang celebrity crush mo?" is not journalism. That claim was just as flat as her show's ratings. It was nothing but a play for the Nielsen and Kantar numbers.

    But maybe Sanchez had learned her lesson from that episode. After all, we all know she is capable of doing more than that, of displaying the tough, fierce interrogator that she once was back in the day. Maybe she just needs to find her voice once again.

    As for Rated K, in general, the show just doesn't work anymore. There is just no reason to tune in to the show when GMA-7's Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho is so much better.

    Screenshot: PTV4

    PTV4's Sa Totoo Lang

    One would think that moving to a lesser known network — after being taken off the air at his old evening news post at TV5 — would humble Erwin Tulfo. But if his behavior in 2018 is any indication, he just became more rabid than ever before.

    Truth and decency were nowhere to be found on his disingenuous weekly show, Sa Totoo Lang, as Tulfo used it to push his ideology and political agenda.

    Consider his one-on-one with defeated vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos as the perfect example. Not only did Tulfo insist that Vice President Leni Robredo cheated during the 2016 elections, but he also implied that the public strongly believes that Mr. Marcos actually won.

    While introducing him during the opening of his show, Tulfo said: “Hindi man idineklarang panalo noong 2016 national elections ang ating makakapanayam ngayong gabi. Pero tingin ng karamihan namanipula ang kanyang pagkatalo.”

    Pero tingin ng karamihan namanipula ang kanyang pagkatalo? Who? The BBM crowd? The paid trolls?

    In all fairness to Tulfo, he had long exposed himself as a DDS (die-hard Duterte supporter) who would do anything to support President Duterte, his administration, and his allies (Mr. Marcos happens to be one of them). But to do that in PTV4, which is funded by taxpayer's money, is still irresponsible.

    Tulfo is not a neophyte in this business. He's been doing the news for more than two decades now. We get that he is committed in bringing down the so-called “yellows,” but to resort to lies and propaganda is another thing.

    Well, there's a reason why he's no longer employed by any major TV network today.

    Photo: ABS-CBN

    Anthony Taberna

    Anthony Taberna drew a much deserved widespread criticism in February of last year after making an ignorant, reckless comment about a rape victim on Umagang Kay Ganda.

    During a panel discussion on a story about a 19-year-old woman who was gang-raped by men she met online, the ABS-CBN host made this comment: "Pambihira naman oh. Ito po'y hindi first time na nangyari, ano. Napakadami nang pagkakataon na [nangyari] 'yang eyeball-eyeball na 'yan. At ang mas delikado, nakipag-eyeball ka na nga, nakipag-inuman ka pa. 'Yun ang problema, 'yun ang mabigat sa lahat. Lalo na't puro lalaki ang ka-inuman mo."

    At that point, Jeff Canoy chimed in and rightfully schooled Taberna: "Madalas usually pinapaalalahanan 'yung mga babae na huwag sumama, huwag uminom, pero dapat 'yung blame talaga is doon sa mga lalaki. Dapat ang paalala sa kanila is huwag kayong mang-rape, 'diba? 'Pag sinabi ng babae na huwag, [eh 'di] huwag, 'diba?"

    But Taberna still played the boys-will-be-boys argument, saying: "Hindi, sa totoo lang, pagka... madali sabihin 'yong sa lalaki. Pero 'pag ipinain na — pasensya na doon sa biktima 'yon dapat mabigyan ng katarungan — pero ito, para sa future na pangyayari. Kapag ikaw ay babae, huwag kang papasok sa lungga ng mga tulisan."

    Not even the most loyal Kapamilya, of course, would defend something like that. As netizens and the public pointed out, Taberna's remarks only contributed in the perpetuating rape culture.

    Like the man in MalacaƱang —the same man he supported during the 2016 national elections — Taberna believes, or at least believed until he was roasted by the public, in this notion that the women who get assaulted, or get raped, are to be blamed, simply because they have done something to make it happen.

    This is, of course, wrong on so many levels, and someone who has wielded so much power should've known better.

    Taberna later issued an apology — as he should — saying: "Nais ko rin pong sabihin na hindi ko po sinisisi ang biktima sa nangyari. Dapat pong panagutin sa batas ang mga kriminal. Gaya nga po ng aking nabanggit sa naturang segment, dapat pong mabigyan ng hustisya ang sinapit po ng biktima. “Humihingi po ako ng paumanhin sa mga nasaktan sa aking komento at mas magiging maingat po ako sa mga sumusunod na pagkakataon.”

    Let's just hope he really did learn his lesson.


  • Ben Tulfo for this and this
  • News5
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